Global shares, oil slip as Iran tensions in focus

Business

A currency trader watches his computer monitors near screens showing the Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI), left, and the foreign exchange rate between U.S. dollar and South Korean won at the foreign exchange dealing room in Seoul, South Korea, Monday, Sept. 23, 2019. Stocks got a downbeat start to the week as investors kept a wary eye on tensions with Iran and on signals from China and the U.S. on prospects for a resolution of their tariffs war. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

BANGKOK (AP) — World shares were mostly lower Monday as investors kept a wary eye on tensions with Iran and on prospects for a resolution of the tariffs war between China and the U.S.

Germany’s DAX dropped 1% to 12,338 while the CAC 40 in Paris lost 0.9% to 5,637. Britain’s FTSE 100 gave up 0.5% to 7,308. Wall Street looked ready for a steady start, with the future contracts for both the Dow Jones Industrial average and the S&P 500 unchanged.

China’s Fosun Tourism Group, owner of Club Med and the biggest shareholder in Thomas Cook, fell 4.2% in Hong Kong after the 178-year-old British tour company went bust. Bookings for more than 600,000 global vacationers were canceled Monday as a result.

Britain’s Civil Aviation Authority said Thomas Cook’s four airlines would be grounded and its 21,000 employees in 16 countries will lose their jobs.

Oil prices dropped on reports that Iran had agreed to free a U.K.-flagged tanker that it had held, potentially easing some regional tensions. There was no sign yet, however, that the tanker was moving.

U.S. President Donald Trump, arriving in New York for the meeting of the United Nations General Assembly, said he intended to seek support for a coalition to confront Iran after the U.S. blamed it for last week’s strike on a Saudi Arabian oil facility.

Iran’s president on Sunday urged Western powers to leave the security of the Persian Gulf to regional nations led by Tehran. Hassan Rouhani promised to propose a regional peace plan at this week’s UN meetings.

The U.S. alleges Iran carried out the Sept. 14 attack on Saudi Aramco’s largest oil processor, which caused oil prices to spike by the biggest percentage since the 1991 Gulf War. Yemen’s Iranian-allied Houthi rebels have claimed the assault, which Saudi Arabia says was “unquestionably sponsored by Iran.”

Iran denies being responsible and has warned any retaliatory attack targeting it will result in an “all-out war.”

U.S. crude oil shed 29 cents to $57.80 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, the international standard, dropped $1.26 to $63.02 per barrel.

In Asian trading, the Shanghai Composite index skidded 1.0% to 2,977.08, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng fell 0.8% to 26,223.83 after yet another weekend of violent protests.

In South Korea, the Kospi was flat at 2,091.70, while the S&P ASX 200 in Sydney advanced 0.3% to 6,749.70. Shares fell in Taiwan and in Southeast Asia.

India’s Sensex continued a rally that began Friday with an announcement of fresh tax incentives for businesses. It climbed 3.0% to 39,164.77 on Monday.

Tokyo’s markets were closed for a holiday.

Wall Street ended last week with losses, snapping a 3-week winning streak for the S&P 500 following reports that Chinese officials canceled a planned trip to farms in Montana and Nebraska.

That sparked concern that trade talks due to resume next month might be in trouble after U.S. and Chinese envoys met last week for preliminary discussions to lay the groundwork for later, more formal negotiations.

However, the two sides described the talks in Washington as “productive” and “constructive,” indicating further negotiations will go ahead in coming weeks.

In currency trading, the dollar weakened to 107.42 Japanese yen from 107.55 yen on Friday. The euro slipped to $1.0984 from $1.1020.

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